Tanzania fines Acacia Mining $2.4 million over alleged pollution

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania’s mining minister said on Monday Acacia Mining had been fined 5.6 billion Tanzanian shillings ($2.4 million) for alleged pollution at its North Mara mine.

Acacia, majority-owned by Barrick Gold, is embroiled in a long-running tax dispute with Tanzania.

It was forced to cut output by a third after the government banned the export of mineral concentrates from its two other mines, Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi, in 2017.Tanzania’s National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has issued an environmental protection order (EPO) relating to alleged pollution from North Mara’s tailings dam, mining minister Doto Biteko said.”The North Mara gold mine has been given two weeks to pay the fine and three weeks to rectify the problem at its tailings storage facility,” Biteko told Reuters.”If the mine fails to comply to the order, tougher measures will be taken against it.”Last week Biteko and the country’s environment minister, January Makamba, visited the mine, where operations remain unaffected despite the crackdown by the environmental agency. Acacia confirmed on Friday that the mine would be issued with an EPO relating to alleged historical breaches of environmental regulations in Tanzania.”The mine’s technical team has been working constructively and collaboratively with the government of Tanzania to try to address ... concerns regarding alleged breaches of various environmental regulations and alleged discharges of a hazardous substance from the mine,” Acacia said in a statement. Acacia said in January it had been fined 300 million Tanzanian shillings over allegations of breaching environmental regulations at the mine.The company said it has been asked to build a new tailings dam, a structure for storing uneconomical ore.Acacia faces a $190 billion tax bill from Tanzanian authorities, which has severely limited the London-listed company’s operations in the East African nation.

Writing by by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by Hereward Holland and Alexander Smith